Video Game Review: New Super Mario Brothers Wii

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Overall rating: 5/5 stars

In the early 1980’s, video game company Atari almost exclusively ran the home console business. Although these systems enjoyed a measure of success, soon third-party developers rushed second-rate games onto the market, which quickly and greatly displeased gamers everywhere, resulting in a near-crash of the entire industry.

Then a modest little company called Nintendo entered the scene with a certain mustached legend appearing in his first killer hit, Super Mario Brothers for the NES. Since then, Mario has appeared in dozens upon dozens of titles of differing genres, yet still maintaining a consistently high quality for them overall. Can that legacy persist with New Super Mario Brothers for the Wii, which returns to Mario’s original platformer concept?

Gamplay

Sometimes, “back to the basics” is the best. Returning to his roots as a two-dimensional platform star, Mario’s quest to save the kidnapped princess (again) uses elements from previous games (fire flowers and invincibility stars from the original, lifting things from SMB2, holding items and Bowser’s kids from SMB3, Yoshi steeds and Boo levels from Super Mario Worlds, etc.) while introducing new ingredients (ice flower, helicopter cap, penguin suit, new enemies and obstacles, etc.). The result is a spectacular stand-alone that pays nostalgic homage to the classics while weaving its own distinct identity. The best part is that, for the first time, four players can play on-screen simultaneously.

Adventuring across an overworld view, similar to that first introduced in the series’ third title on the NES, Mario and up to three friends trek through varying worlds, beating baddies and traversing jump-precision challenges. New Super Mario Brothers Wii perfectly combings classic, familiar gameplay elements with Wii-flavored innovations, like taking advantage of motion control to enable actions initiated by shaking the controller.

Graphics

From the sandy structures of a desert landscape to the slippery ice of a winter wonderland, all the good ol’ Mushroom Kingdom locales are in play. The animations are smoother and the details are richer, but these come as appropriate, pleasant enhancements. The characters, backgrounds, bosses, items, and other ingredients are perfectly mixed into one enjoyable presentation.

Sound

The sound effects are great, and the background music provides quality accompaniment. There really is little else to say; Mario has never been known as a tremendous musical innovator, 

but his legendary themes persist in gaming lore nonetheless. New Super Mario Brothers Wii is no exception: You have heard these tunes before, but you still love them.

Creativity and Innovation

Although the basic premise is to relive the original premise, this New Super Mario Brothers Wii review would be remiss if it were to avoid mentioning a couple of the successful new ideas thrown in. The best, obvious example is simultaneous multiplayer play, which must be experienced firsthand to be fully appreciated. One idea that allows this, that avoids the potential problem of a player being left behind, is the bubble a player can get into by simply hitting the A button at any time, a floating bubble that travels through all obstacles until catching up to another player. However, to avoid abuse of this function, all players lose a life if all are bubbled at the same time.

A few original power-up items introduce fun new gameplay possibilities. The helicopter cap enables a player to powerfully jump high upward, at a shake of the controller; the ice mushroom to freeze, rather than burn, enemies; the penguin suit, which combines the ice mushroom power with a speedily combative belly slide; and the micro cap, which miniaturizes a player to allow enhanced jumping powers and running on water.

In this latest princess-saving episode, New Super Mario Brothers Wii simply, perfectly brings together the proven formula of the NES classics with refreshing ideas and multi-player capability. For being both a blast from the past and a cutting-edge blast in its own right, New Super Mario Brothers Wii reviews at five stars out of five.

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